DOB: February 17, 1970
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Martial Arts Background: Kickboxing
Kickboxing Record: 36-8-1
Boxing Record: 2-0
Notable Fighters: Anthony Pettis, Tyron Woodley, Ben Askren
Duke Roufus’ beginnings in martial arts
The Wisconsin native Jeffrey Ryan “Duke” Roufus grew up training in martial arts. He is the brother of pro fighter Rick Roufus, so naturally Duke would also take the path of being a fighter.
Duke Roufus’ first martial art was Taekwondo, which he won numerous titles in. Also earning a 4th degree black belt in the martial art.
After training in Taekwondo, Roufus would then get into full contact kickboxing. Training in american kickboxing and later in Muay Thai.
Duke Roufus’ time as a fighter
In the 90s, Duke Roufus would compete around the world in various promotions the WKA, K-1, IKF, WAKO, and KICK. Winning numerous belts within most of these promotions, except within K-1.
Initially Roufus would retire in 2002, but made a comeback in 2005 and had two more fights before retiring again.
Upon retiring Duke Roufus ended his career with a pro kickboxing record of 36-8-1 and 2-0 in boxing.
Duke Roufus opens Roufusport
A year before retiring in 2006, Duke Roufus would open his own martial arts school Roufusport. At first, Roufus would open his school in his father’s basement before finding a space to rent out.
He would first grow a kickboxing team, but then started taking on MMA fighters to train. Roufus started getting recognition as a top trainer as many of his fighters were part of the UFC and WEC.
One of his first students was the young Anthony Pettis that made huge waves at a young age in the sport.
Roufusport gains international recognition
With the sport of MMA exploding in popularity, gyms like Roufusport did along with it. Duke Roufus’s gym became home to many of the best fighters in the world.
Everyone from champions in MMA, kickboxing, and Olympic wrestling competitors. Roufusport became highly touted as a hard nose gym full of fighters that trained hard.
Duke Roufus is a constant fixture at big MMA events and is constantly cornering at UFC, Bellator, and PFL events. To this date, Roufus has helped train around 10 MMA world champions and counting.
Since Duke Roufus opened Roufusport in 2006 his gym has been home to a laundry list of well known fighters. This list includes names like Anthony Pettis, Tyron Woodley, Ben Askren, and Sergio Pettis.
At one point, Anthony Pettis was the most famous MMA fighter on the planet. Since his start in MMA, he has trained under Duke Roufus at Roufusport.
Pettis started getting the attention of fight fans in the WEC, where he won the promotion’s lightweight title. Most known for bouncing off the cage and dropping Benson Henderson. A kick that is still played on numerous highlight videos.
After this match, the WEC would merge into the UFC. Pettis was a highly touted prospect going into the UFC, but his debut was spoiled by veteran Clay Guida.
Anthony would quickly bounce back winning 3 straight fights to earn a title shot. During this time, Pettis also became a business partner with Roufus and became a co-owner of Roufusport.
He would then achieve his dream of holding UFC gold by beating Benson Henderson again by armbar. Pettis became the poster boy for the UFC and was spotlighted on ESPN.
In his successful title defense, he would beat Gilbert Melendez by guillotine choke before losing the belt to Rafael dos Anjos.
Since losing his title, Pettis has been on the rough side of his career going 6-10 in his last 16 fights.
The former Strikeforce and UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley moved to Roufusport later in his career. He claims it was actually his son’s idea to move to Milwaukee and train with Duke Roufus.
It would turn out to be a potent combo as it would lead Woodley to a shot at the UFC welterweight title. He would knock out the popular Robbie Lawler in the first round to win the title.
Woodley would go on to defend his title 4 times with his best performance being a submission win over Darren Till.
He would then lose the title to Kamaru Usman and drop his last 4 fights before being released.
For over a decade, Askren was considered one of the greatest welterweight fighters on the planet. After finishing his wrestling career, Askren went right into MMA and made his home at Roufusport with Duke.
After just 3 fights, Askren was added to the Bellator season 3 welterweight tournament. Dominating his opponents with superior wrestling to win the tournament and a title shot that he’d win.
Ben would defend his belt 4 times before vacating the title and moving to One FC. There he would also win the promotion’s title in his 2nd bout with the company.
He continued to beat his opponent’s with superior wrestling and defend his title 5 times. Then in a first in MMA history, Askren was traded to the UFC for Demetrious Johnson.
The undefeated Askren would go 1-2 in his time in the UFC and would retire and get a hip replacement.
Anthony’s little brother Sergio Pettis has also been with Duke Roufus since the beginning of his career. Pettis would have a 6 year run with the UFC going between the flyweight and bantamweight divisions.
He would then explore free agency and would land in Bellator. There Pettis has won 3 straight and has won the promotion’s bantamweight title.
Duke Roufus’ legacy
In 15 years since opening Roufusport, Duke Roufus has helped train some of the world’s best fighters. Including training 2 UFC champions, 2 Bellator champions, and 1 One FC champion.
Roufus had a successful fighting career and an even more successful career as a coach. Roufusport is among one of the most respected MMA gyms in the world. Duke will look to continue growing his school and try to grow a new crop of champions.